The label DNA was a collaboration between fashion designer Doris de Pont and textile artist Adrienne Foote. The name chosen to reflect that each piece was unique and used original print designs that were screenprinted in house.
By happy coincidence it was also stood for the partnership, Doris 'n' Adrienne. They were part of a new generation of designers who looked to the Pacific for inspiration and whose iconography reflected Auckland - New Zealand’s largest and most vital Polynesian city.
Adrienne was creating her own textile designs and printing them on woven and knitted cotton fabrics. These she made into shirts, dresses and other garments which she sold under the Footeprints label. Doris had been drawn to these and had commissioned some for her own garments when she had the shop in O’Connell Street.
In 1992, when Doris de Pont had a commission to create uniforms for the flight attendants on Niue Airlines, Adrienne delivered the print design. They worked together again in 1994 when Doris commissioned a variation on an Adrienne Foote fabric, which declared a Nuclear-Free Pacific, for the uniforms for the New Zealand team at the Gay Games in New York. In exchange Adrienne commissioned Doris to make some of her patterns. When Adrienne came to ask for a suggestion of someone to work with to give her work a more fashion focus it seemed only natural that they should formalise their working together and DNA was born.
In September 1994, to the track 'In the Neighbourhood' by Sisters Underground, DNA presented its first capsule collection to friends and clients in Adrienne’s workroom space in the basement next to St Kevin’s Arcade. DNA Summer 1994/1995, was put together in about six weeks, and established the basic motifs of their collaboration: fashion-forward garment shapes, unique collaged screen-printed fabrics, often combining classical statuary and botanical or other scientific engravings, and a limited but flexible colour palette.
"It was our first foray into manufacturing, running seasonal ranges and wholesaling," Doris recalls. It took off straight away, being picked up by local and Australian retailers and featured in Fashion Quarterly and More magazine. Collections gradually increased in scale, and in 2001 a diffusion label, dna, was added to the stable.
Doris and Adrienne decided to go their separate ways in 2002. Doris purchased the company, relaunching under her own name.
Text by Genevieve de Pont. Banner image of Doris de Pont and Adrienne Foote at the DNA studio, 2001.
Last published March 2015.